Photo: Parker Miles Blohm/Flickr
New York City will see extensive zoning changes if Mayor de Blasio’s 483-page affordable housing plan is adopted by the City Council.
Presented to council last week, the mayor’s plan aims to expand affordable housing through new height, square footage and parking rules.
In most areas, affordable housing buildings could be one or two stories taller and all residential buildings would receive an extra five feet to build taller ground floors that could accommodate retail.
Senior housing could be built as tall as four to six stories to accommodate elevators, even if current zoning prohibits those heights. Smaller apartments (below the City’s 400 square foot minimum) could be constructed, so long as the average size of all apartments in the building stay the same.
The proposal would also take away requirements to build parking spaces at affordable sites already close to public transit, and reduce parking at senior buildings city-wide, requiring spaces for just 10 percent of apartments.
The plan has drawn significant criticism, though most agree that the City is facing unprecedented housing challenges.
“Quite frankly, there is something in here for everyone,” said Councilman David Greenfield, chair of the Land Use Committee to the New York Daily News. “There’s also enough in here for just about every community to hate.”
The Department of City Planning and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development say that New York City is facing an affordable housing crisis. Since 1990, the population has grown by over one million people, with an estimated increase of over 300,000 people in just the last four years. The cost of housing has also steadily risen and competition for apartments has increased.
Currently there are around 270,000 people on the New York City Housing Authority’s waiting list for public housing, and lotteries for affordable units are drawing unprecedented numbers of applicants. Recently, there were over 80,000 applications for the 38 affordable units at 59 Frost Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Although the proposal would ease some of that pressure, some critics say the Mayor’s plan is not progressive enough. Writing for local blog Welcome2TheBronx, Ed Garcia Conde says it is not “truly affordable,” due to high proposed qualifying income levels. In recent weeks, 46 of 59 community boards throughout the city rejected the zoning changes. Only six approved while seven were split.
The City Council has until the end of March to reach a decision.